Rock formations are created by the elements such as heat, wind, rain, and erosion. What nature has done with these tools on the palette of the earth is both breath taking and mind boggling.
These incredible natural rock formations were created slowly over millions of years using the hardest materials. Thankfully for us, nature is a patient artist.
An overview of the most incredible natural rock formations on the planet.
Externsteine, in northern Germany, has been a sacred site since prehistoric times, first used by pagans and later on by Christians. Externsteine consists of five enormous limestone pillars that are in astronomical alignment.
Sometime around the end of the eighth century, monks took up residence in the caves, carving staircases and religious reliefs in the rocks.
Externsteine is in a highly scenic setting, today drawing a lot of New Age followers. A chapel sits atop one of the pillars; it is reachable by footbridge.
2. Arbol de Piedra
Árbol de Piedra is an isolated rock formation in the Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve in southwest Bolivia.
Known as the “Stone Tree,” it is shaped like a stunted tree about 7 meters (23 feet) high. Its shape is caused by strong winds carrying sand and eroding the soft sandstone.
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3. Man Pupu Nyor
Man Pupu Nyor, which translates as “little mountain of the gods,” is a geological wonder located deep in Russia’s Ural Mountains. They’re actually seven formations ranging in heights up to 42 meters (137 feet).
These awe-inspiring Seven Giants, as they’re called, reign over a flat plateau. Local legend says they were created when a shaman cast a spell, turning these evil giants into stone.
Only the most intrepid travelers are likely to visit here, since they’re accessibly mainly by snowmobiles or helicopters.
4. Twyfelfontein Organ Pipes
Travelers who are into geology will enjoy a visit to Organ Pipes near Twyfelfontein, Namibia.
The dolerite columns that line the sides of a small valley resemble a pipe organ, though slightly more unusually shaped, such as triangles and hexagons, and date back 120 million years when volcanic activity was the norm.
Organ Pipes makes a good stop over between Twyfelfontein, with its ancient rock engravings, and Burnt Mountain, known for its piles of blackened limestone.
5. Devil’s Town
Devil’s Town in south Serbia is filled with natural rock formations that resemble spindles and spires that are reminiscent of the hoodoos at Utah’s Bryce Canyon Natural Park.
The 202 rock formations, created by erosion, range from 2 to 15 meters (6 feet to 49 feet) high. The earthen figures, which started with volcanic action eons ago, are both picturesque and mystical.
One local legend says the figures are remains of churches that were destroyed by the devil.
6. Wave Rock
Wave Rock in Western Australia is so named because that is exactly what it looks like: an ocean wave. It forms one side of a hill that is known as Hyden Rock. The granite rocks date back 2.63 billion years.
Wave Rock is known as a flared slope because of its curving shape. Both Wave and Hyden rocks are located in Hyden Wildlife Park, a nature preserve.
7. Basaltic Prisms of Santa Maria Regla
The basaltic prisms, in Santa Maria Regla in Hidalgo state, are one of Mexico’s natural wonders. The columns, up to 30 meters (98 feet) high, were created by cooling lava.
The formations’ beauty is marked by water from a dam flowing over them.
Wandering around the rocks is permissible, but travelers should expect to get their feet wet in the waterfalls. Bridges and other walkways are available for close-up looks, too.
8. Domes de Fabedougou
The Domes de Fabedougou in south-western Burkina Faso are another of Mother Nature’s wonders, with each rock formation in a different shape.
Some are tall and slender, others are short and fat, or vice versa; they can be close together or sometimes not. Some of the formations are shaped like rocks, others like pointing fingers.
The limestone formations date back 1.8 billion years when the area was under water. Travelers who enjoy rock climbing will treasure this spot, as climbing on the domes is permissible.
The waterfall Svartifoss is one of the most visited sites in Vatnajökull National Park in southern Iceland. Also known as Black Fall because of its unusual lava columns that seem layered, Svartifoss has sharp rocks at the base.
These rocks break off faster than the rushing waters can wear them down. It’s possible to hike to the top of the 20-meter (65-foot) high waterfall, starting from the Skaftafell visitor center, but it’s mostly an uphill hike.
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10. Bryce Canyon National Park
Despite the name, Bryce Canyon National Park is actually not a canyon, but rather a series of giant amphitheaters filled with colorful pinnacles. The natural rock formations were caused by wind and water erosion on limestone.
The colors of red, orange, and white provide an ever changing visual treat. The pinnacles are also known as hoodoos and reach up to 61 meters (200 feet) high.
Bryce Canyon is recognized for its great air quality and visibility can be up to 200 miles.